Dr. Caroline Chartrand, a Sainte-Justine Hospital staff pediatrician, and colleagues at McGill University, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre in Montreal, said meta-analysis consisted of 159 studies.
The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found the rapid influenza diagnostic test accuracy is higher in children than it is in adults and they were better at detecting the more common influenza A virus than influenza B.
Early flu diagnosis is key for both optimal patient care and infection control. But viral culture and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction tests -- the gold-standards for detecting influenza -- are expensive and the turn-around time for results range from one to 10 days.
The rapid influenza diagnostic tests are simple to use and give results in 15 to 30 minutes in a doctor's office or emergency departments.
There are more than 25 rapid flu tests on the market and the meta-analysis aimed at giving doctors and healthcare providers an overview of the voluminous literature on these tests, Chartrand said.
"So many papers have been published, especially since the H1N1 pandemic, but no one had synthesized this body of literature into one single cohesive piece," senior author Dr. Madhukar Pai, an associate professor at McGill University said. "Our hope is that this work will help in informing future guidelines on the use of these tests."